Why is it imperative to now designate Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism? The fragile nature of the state of Pakistan coupled with the presence of global Islamic terrorist organizations being provided shelter on its soil give rise to the inevitable possibility of its nuclear weapons falling into wrong hands and being put to wrong use. It’s not the question of whether it will happen, but a question of how long down the line will it happen. The international community should be concerned as the army of Pakistan is not even capable of protecting its own men, forget about the people of the country, from these radical elements. The ISI remote-controls the government and the army, and years of promoting terror activities have resulted in infiltration into its ranks as well, blurring the difference between radical Islamic groups and national intelligence agency. The concept presented by Pakistan of state actors and non-state actors on the issue of terrorism is a false dichotomy.
A video, which went viral in the recent past, showing a Pakistani Ranger being flogged by a group of Islamic militants and crying for mercy exposes the impotence of the Pakistani armed forces. The Peshawar school attack by Taliban in which at least 132 died – mostly innocent children – showed how ill-prepared the Pakistani army is to tackle the ever-growing numbers and evolving capabilities of the Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. The country does not have control over two-thirds of its territory – Baluchistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit–Baltistan remain grey areas. It was reported in 2011, the Pentagon had devised secret plans to secure the Pakistani arsenal, by force if necessary, fearing failure by the unstable country to keep it secure.
How can the world not be jittery knowing that Pakistan cannot be trusted to secure its nuclear arsenal, keeping it safe away from the hands of those looking to grab the first opportunity to possess a dirty bomb. The country is a hotbed of jihadi terrorists and is known to be waging proxy wars by promoting and supporting militant groups that can’t be controlled by its army. As a result, the country has turned into an epicenter of Islamist terrorism. The simulacrum of democracy is a deceptive facade.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton too has expressed concern over the possibility of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of jihadists, which she said was “a threatening scenario”. “Pakistan is running full speed to develop tactical nukes in their continuing hostility with India,” the former secretary of state told a close door fundraiser in Virginia in February, The New York Times reported, citing 50-minute audio being hacked from the Democratic Party’s computers.
“But we live in fear that they’re going to have a coup, that jihadists are going to take over the government, they’re going to get access to nuclear weapons, and you’ll have suicide nuclear bombers. So, this could not be a more threatening scenario,” the daily quoted Clinton as saying in the audio that appeared on The Washington Free Beacon website.
“….In the Russian view, there is another serious threat that should be discussed: Pakistan. Pakistan is a nation with nuclear weapons, various delivery systems and a domestic situation that is highly unstable. Russia assesses that Islamists are not only seeking power in Pakistan but are also trying to get their hands on nuclear materials,“ stated Wikileaks, November 2010.
A state, which itself is a terror group by nature, is primarily a ticking time bomb just moments away from imploding with the ripple effects felt across its borders causing possible irreparable damages to other countries as well.
If Pakistan continues on this path of its nuclear program, soon it will leave every country behind but the United States and Russia as far as nuclear arsenal is concerned. Had it been a more responsible state, the world could rest in peace but the fact is that Pakistan is giving sleepless nights not only to its historic rival India, but most of the world. If it remains on this path, Pakistan will find itself in the company of North Korea to become a headache for the world community.
Defense analysts point towards the much feared Cold Start strategy of India ,that is fueling insecurity in Pakistan for it to go on a nuclear weapons development spree. It has developed battlefield nuclear weapons as an insurance which will be launched on purpose-built short-range rockets, such as the Nasr. This could possibly wreck its economy and is a wasteful militarization program as these will be located in forward bases where they are a threat to Pakistani citizens more than the advancing Indian army. This also presents a tempting opportunity for terrorist groups. Cold Start is a new form of blitzkrieg being perfected by Indian armed forces. It reorganises the Indian Army’s offensive into eight small division-sized battle groups that combine mechanised infantry, artillery, and armour instead of relying on the three large strike corps which lead to a loss of valuable time.
“As the Indian military enhances its ability to implement Cold Start, it is simultaneously degrading the chance that diplomacy could diffuse a crisis on the subcontinent. In a future emergency, the international community may find the Battle Groups on the road to Lahore before anyone in Washington, Brussels or Beijing has the chance to act,” Walter C. Ladwig, a defence expert and professor of International Relations at King’s College London writes. The objective of Cold Start is to seize the moment and finish the war before India’s political leadership comes into play. As a counter-balance, Pakistan has been developing a large number of battlefield nuclear weapons.
It’s an open secret that the government of Pakistan likes to prostrate in front of the army and is forced to support the army in its various misadventures does not give confidence to other democratic countries. The country has already witnessed a military coup in October 1999 when Pervez Musharraf snatched power for close to a decade. The fact that such an instance can occur again cannot be ruled out. Pakistan finds itself branded an irresponsible state at the global stage and now faces international pressure to rein in terror groups that use its territory to propagate their ideology and mount terror attacks on foreign soils.
Battlefield nuclear weapons under the direct control of army commanders who sympathise with Islamic terrorists should bother many world powers. In the Russian view, “extremist organisations have more opportunities to recruit people working in (Pakistan’s) nuclear and missile programmes,” revealed Wikileaks. The fact that Osama Bin Laden found refuge in Abbottabad, Pakistan, which happens to be where the Pakistan Military Academy is, underscores the impish nature of the state that never minds going to bed with terror organizations. Pak ISI is also known to have nurtured and trained Mujahideen fighters to enter conflicts in Afghanistan. This later became the birthplace of al-Qaeda.
After the dastardly Uri attack, Pakistan finds itself, yet again, isolated internationally due to its pernicious ways. This is not the first time such an event is taking place. During the Kargil battle too, Pakistan faced similar ostracisation by the global community. India’s neighbor has gained global notoriety and turned into the incorrigible bad boy of theIndian subcontinent who cannot be trusted anymore. Developing “tactical nuclear weapons”, which won’t actually serve the purpose they were built for, to counter conventional military offensives by the Indian Army and the will to strike first using nuclear weapons pose a big risk of some of these being pilfered by unpredictable and radical non-state actors that Pakistan has provided a safe haven to not knowing any better.
Also, the fact that Pakistan is willing to break a nuclear taboo that was formed after the United States of America bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, is disturbing to say the least. Nuclear proliferation by the country is not a moral issue but a security threat for the West as well which is already facing the wrath of the Islamic State. The Western world has now become a victim of Islamic fundamentalism and shares the grief and suffering at the hands of jihadi groups after living in oblivion in the past. Not just the fear of Pakistani nuclear weapons being stolen, but the fact that Pakistan can explore the option to sell one of its weapons to an aspiring nuclear power gives sleepless nights to many.
The prospect of Pakistan been declared a terror state has been gaining ground. The petition titled ‘UK Govt to strongly condemn Pakistan or providing safe haven for terrorists’ hit record signs in UK. More than 50,000 new signatures have been added to the final count of the White House petition seeking to designate Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism, making it the most popular US petition so far. The petition: “We the people ask the administration to declare Pakistan, State Sponsor of Terrorism (HR 6069)”, was archived by the White House on Monday with 613,830 signatures.
Pakistan has used this situation to its advantage for the many years by effectively blackmailing the international community and seeking various assistance exploiting the collective fears of what may happen should Pakistan’s nuclear weapons end up in the wrong hands. It’s time to call Pakistan’s bluff before it is too late. These should be reason enough for the international community to see Pakistan’s nuclear weapons as a direct security threat. The fact of the matter is if say, hypothetically, the al-Qaeda or the Islamic State manages to get hold of a Pakistani nuclear missile, the threat it poses is not to India, but to Pakistan itself and the West.